EWHA Womans University; Dominiqe Perrault Architecture

The newest addition of the EWHA Women's University in Seoul, Korea designed by Dominique Perrault Architecture and completed in 2008 is a remarkable display of topographical architecture with pristine form, function, and beautiful aesthetics.  The complexity of the immediate site through its relationship to the greater campus and the city of Shinchon to the south demands a "larger than site" response, an urban response, a global landscape solution which weaves together the tissue of the EWHA campus with that of the city.  This gesture, the "campus valley", in combination with the "sports strip", creates a new topography which impacts the surrounding landscape in a number of ways.

The pastoral nature of the campus is perhaps its most remarkable quality.  It should be permitted to grow outwards, or inwards in this case, covering the campus center with trees, flowers, and grass.  The park is re-drawn.  An idylic garden is the result, creating a special place for gathering, conducting informal classes, and simply relaxing.  The notion of weaving together the campus is again evident, blurring the distinction between old and new, building and landscape.

An interior seam slices through the topography creating an active void, a hybrid place, in which a variety of activities can unfold.  It is an avenue, gently descending, controlling the flow of traffic, leading to a monumental stair carrying visitors upwards like the Champs Elysees or the Campidoglio in Rome.

The central seam serves many purposes;
  • An entry court, from which accessto the various departments exist
  • A node, or point of trajectory to another destination
  • A forum for the exchange of ideas as students gather after class to discuss their views
  • A pizza, with the cafeteria spilling out creating a real destination to stop and relax
  • An outdoor theatre, as the stair can be used in an amphitheater like fashion
  • A sculpture garden where indoor gallery events can push outwards
It is precisely this flexibility which permits the New EWHA campus center to inevitably weave itself into the landscape sometimes as a building, a landscape, or as a sculpture.